Israeli official 'not sorry' Tutu's Beit Hanun mission canceled
Israeli diplomatic sources said last night they were not sorry that the United Nation's fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli-Palestinian violence in Beit Hanoun was canceled.
The mission, headed by Nobel laureate and former Cape Town archbishop Desmond Tutu, came to investigate the killing of 19 Palestinian civilians in Beit Hanoun at the beginning of November.
The sources said that the six-member delegation was "one-sided and cynical."
Earlier, Tutu said Israel refused to let him enter the Gaza Strip and was also preventing his entrance to Israel. "We find the lack of cooperation by the Israeli government very distressing," Tutu told reporters.
The sources said Israel wanted the mission members to enter as tourists, probably because a tourist status would not oblige Israel to recognize the mission's work. The UN, however, insisted they come as diplomats, i.e., as representatives of the UN. The sources said negotiations were still in progress.
The mission was due to set out for the Middle East at the end of last week and report its findings by mid- month to the UN Human Rights Council.
Tutu said yesterday that he has been trying to obtain an entrance permit both to Israel and the Gaza Strip for 10 days and that the delay may make the investigation impossible.
"We canceled important commitments to make ourselves available for this task," Tutu said, adding that he had left the bedside of his wife, who was in a hospital.
Christine Chinkin, a law professor at the London School of Economics, said she and other members of the team had hoped to meet with Israeli authorities and therefore decided against entering Gaza through Egypt.
"That would be one-sided. It would not give us the full picture. It would also look as though we were going in the back door," she said. "It was in no way at all a one-sided mission."